Saturday, March 5 at 11am, Columbus, NM once again welcomes the Buffalo Soldiers to one of their historic outposts at Pancho Villa State Park. Riders from the El Paso Buffalo Soldiers Motorcylcle Club arrive that morning for a welcome event at the park’s exhibition hall hosted by Columbus Mayor Esequiel Salas. The Right Reverend Reggie Price of the Historic Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Deming will give the invocation. Festivities begin at 9am in town with a flea market, followed by 12:30pm and 2:00pm performances by the New World African Drummers & Dancers.
The Buffalo Soldiers arrived to the New Mexico frontier in August 1866, 3 years after the emancipation proclamation and nearly 50 years before New Mexico became a state. Made up entirely of Afro-Americans, Buffalo Soldiers were sent to the most unforgiving environments in the territories. Buffalo Soldiers became key to settling areas full of conflict and unrest, arriving to the Southwest in the middle of the three decades long Apache Wars. While facing blatant racism and significant environmental challenges, Buffalo Soldiers cemented their place in American history by exhibiting exceptional courage and loyalty to the cause.
While through today’s lens the Apache Wars were an annexation of native lands by an early, land-hungry US administration, there is no denying the dedication and bravery exhibited by a newly freed people taking the opportunity to demonstrate their skill, talent and value.
The El Paso Motorcycle Club honors the Buffalo Soldiers through memorial rides like the one to Columbus, keeping the history and sacrifices of this decorated fighting force alive. The last all-black military units were disbanded in the 1950s with the advent of desegregation.
The event in Columbus starts at 9am and runs through the afternoon. Visitors may enjoy the park, museum and historic trail. Participants in the ride along with other invited guests and dignitaries will be treated to local tours and a village hosted lunch.